During the winter months, the air in our living and work environments tends to become very dry due to heat sources such as furnaces or vehicle heaters. This drop in humidity will often cause minor problems for our bodies. Issues such as dry...
During the winter months, the air in our living and work environments tends to become very dry due to heat sources such as furnaces or vehicle heaters. This drop in humidity will often cause minor problems for our bodies. Issues such as dry skin and eyes are common complaints.
Simply stated, dry eyes occur when your body is unable to produce enough moisture for your eyes. Our tears are composed of a mixture of water, fatty oils, and mucus. Tears function to lubricate and protect the eyes.
There are several possible causes of dry eyes. In some individuals, dry eyes occur due to poor tear quality. This is usually due to an imbalance in the composition of the tears. There may be too much or too little of either the water, oils or mucus within the tears. Another cause of dry eyes is a decrease in tear production. As you age, tear production tends to decrease. In fact, it is quite common for people over 50 years of age to have dry eyes. Some medications such as antihistamines and decongestants may also cause dry eyes. This type of dry eye is usually temporary and resolves itself when the medication has been stopped.
Occupations that require a lot of computer work or reading often increase your risk of experiencing dry eyes, as they tend to reduce the frequency at which you blink.
The symptoms of dry eyes most commonly affect both eyes. Symptoms include a stinging or burning sensation in your eyes, eye fatigue or redness and a sensitivity to light. Some people will also experience periods of excessive eye watering and occasional blurred vision.
Generally, dry eyes do not cause significant problems. However, it is important to rule out more serious underlying conditions. It is important to seek medical attention if you suspect that you are experience prolonged dry eyes.
After examining your eyes, your family physician will decide whether a referral to an eye specialist is required.
The good news is that most cases of dry eyes can be treated or controlled with simple over-the-counter eye drops. These drops are designed to lubricate and coat the eyes in order to prevent them from drying out. Lifestyle changes such as introducing Omega-3 to -6 acids into your diet and reducing the amount of caffeine consumed may help to relieve the symptoms of dry eyes. In addition, adding moisture to the air by using a humidifier may also help.
For those working on a computer or reading, it is important to take breaks to allow your eyes to rest.
During these breaks it is advisable to close your eyes or blink repeatedly to help spread the tears across your eyes. Finally, avoid having air blow directly into your eyes. This is especially important for professional truck drivers who spend many hours in the cab of their trucks. Position the heater vents so that they do not blow directly into your eyes.
As you can see, dry eyes is not usually a significant medical condition, however it can cause a great deal of discomfort. Next time your eyes are feeling dry, try some of these tips and you will be well on your way to having well-lubricated eyes.